Magic Origins Considerations
Magic Origins has been out for a couple weeks and I’ve been able to form some opinions about the commons in the set. As I watch the Pro-Tour coverage I thought I would write down some of my thoughts about what will be brought into the cube.
Aerial Volley: Flier specific hate (Plummet, Pistus Strike, etc.) has been phased out of the cube in favor of fight cards and cards that can hit artifacts and/or enchantments too (Return to the Earth, Crushing Vines). Aerial Volley might have what it takes to make the cube, since its very possible to make this card a 2 for 1. Even if you shoot all 3 at a single creature, its a one mana answer to the majority of the fliers in the cube. Pauper doesn’t have access to the huge fliers (angels, demons, dragons, sphinxs) that are outside of this card’s damage range, so this is probably a better card in the cube than even Magic Origins limited.
Akroan Sergeant: 3 mana red 2/2s with upside seem a dime a dozen for the pauper cube. The sergeant is competing directly with Blur Sliver, Ghitu Slinger, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Inner-Flame Igniter, Minotaur Skullcleaver, Manic Vandal, Ronin Houndmaster, Splatter Thug, and Suq’Ata Lancer. Of those cards, the one I am most likely to replace is Inner-Flame Acolyte. Of course if the Sergeant gets a hit in, a 3/3 first strike for 3 is better than most of the aforementioned cards, but getting in seems to be the hard part.
Ampryn Tactician: Ampryn Tactician is like Inner-Flame Igniter in that it works best in the R/W deck and helps replace a trumpet-blast type card for a creature that has a similar (albeit lesser) effect. The mana cost is definitely a turn off, but I don’t know if it would be an auto-include at 3W either.
Artificer’s Epiphany: I briefly considered this card as a pay-off card for the W/U artifacts deck, but it seems like a terrible payoff card.
Boggart Brute: See the entry on Akroan Sergeant. There are some bad red 1 drops still linger in my cube, so some room might for the brute. Goblin is a relevant creature type.
Caustic Caterpillar: I think the argument between this card and naturalize is pretty interesting. Green doesn’t need another naturalize effect and I think that Nantuko Vigilante and Wickerbough Elder are both better than this. If you wanted to play this just as a naturalize, the extra mana to cast the caterpillar is a big deal. On the other hand, being able to attack, block, come back from the grave yard, be soul bonded, etc. does represent a ton of upside for being a creature. I think the caterpillar will replace Naturalize.
Deadbridge Shaman: Deadbridge Shaman fits perfectly into the new B/R sac deck. It has impressed me in Origins limited and I think will fit nicely into the cube.
Enlightened Ascetic: White only have five ways to deal with enchantments right now in the cube. I would like to find a place for Enlightened Ascetic, but I’m not sure what it would replace. If only War Priest of Thune were a common.
Fetid Imp: Flying and deathtouch is an excellent combination of keywords. The need to keep one black up for multiple turns can be rough or laughably easy, depending on your curze. I think the imp is better than Deathgaze Cockatrice and Pestilent Karathi, but I don’t think it is better than Hand of Silumgar (which is currently absent).
Fiery Impulse: Fiery Impulse is only on this list because I have had a lot of people ask about whether I am including it in my cube or not. The answer is no. While it is an excellent card in Magic Origins limited, it has to compete with Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, Chain Lightning, Shock, etc. and I don’t think it stands up well against them. If you want to reduce the strength of the removal in your cube, this card is a worthy replacement.
Ghirapur Gearcrafter: This is the easiest inclusion in the cube. It slots right into the W/R archetype and its strong on its own. Finding something to replace will be the hardest part.
Grasp of the Hieromancer: In the G/W auras deck, the Green auras are the auras that really buff your creature while most of the white auras are the sweet removal auras (Pacifism etc). Grasp of the Hieromancer is a good white aura that buffs your creature but also gives it pseudo-evasion. White has a ton of creatures right now. I might cut some creatures for some nice more auras.
Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road: The 2 toughness is a deal-breaker for this card. White already has a glut of 3 drops and the knight doesn’t cut it.
Kytheon’s Tactics: While a sorcery, I think the discount and potential spell-master upside make this a better card than Inspired Charge. I haven’t seen many defensive Inspired Charges in the cube and if you’re casting your trumpet blast spell to win the game, it doesn’t seem to matter much if it is during combat or first main phase.
Reave Soul: This is another example of a removal spell that is good, but not good enough for the cube. If you want to nerf your black removal, this is a good alternative to Doom Blade types of spells.
Rhox Maulers: Rhox Maulers is a respectable beater and I have seen some people include them in their pauper lists, but its competition at 5 cmc Green creature is pretty stiff. Nessian Asp, Sentinel Spider, and Stampeding Elk Herd are all better than the Maulers. If I were to open up a slot at 5 CMC for Green, Rhox Maulers would be in contention with Ghor-Clan Savage and Rubbleback Rhino, depending on the type of card I’m looking for.
Ringwarden Owl: The Owl is another decent creature at a contested spot. Right now, it is competing with Faerie Invaders, Prescient Chimera, and Mulldrifter. Aven Surveryor isn’t in the cube yet, but would fit in this slot. Chasm Drake, Gryff Vanguard, Killer Whale, and Sky Eel School are cards I have seen people put in their cube that are competing with Ringwarden Owl. The Owl fits best into the UR Stormish deck, where the owl would be able to beat any of these other fliers. I don’t think that the UR deck wants a 5 drop creature all that much, but the Owl is at least worth considering.
Separatist Voidmage: Wizards seems to be printing a new Man-o-War around once a block now and it starts to become a question of how many can you really play in the cube? I currently play Man-o-War, Aether Adept, and Mist Raven which is a pretty light amount of these creatures given other cubes I have looked at. Aethersnipe is big enough to warrant playing and Aven Surveyor is probably good enough. I don’t love Voidweilder’s stats and won’t make the cube. The Voidmage is still probably good enough to make the cube as an easier to cast Aether Adept and a worse Man-o-War.
Shambling Ghoul: Being a zombie is relevant in the cube, so the question comes down to whether the 2/3 that ETBs tapped is a good enough body. With Butcher Ghoul, Shepherd of Rot, Sultai Emissary, and Nightscape Familiar, there are relevant 2 drop zombies in the cube already. If Slivers are removed or scaled down from the cube, that will free up some space at 2 CMC for Shambling Ghoul.
Stalwart Aven: The only 3 CMC white flier in the cube right now is Skyhunter Skirmisher. A 1/3 doesn’t block a lot of the red 3 drops, but if it can get a hit in and be a 2/4, but can block much better.
Suppression Bonds: A Faith’s Fetters that doesn’t gain you four life is still pretty relevant. It fits well into the G/W auras deck, helps give White more main deckable answers to Pestilence, Flood, Escape Routes, and Tortured Existence, and while pauper doesn’t have problem equipment like Swords or Jitte, sometimes turning off the Vulshok Morningstar is very relevant.
Topan Freeblade: Topan Freeblade is a boogeyman in Origins limited, but I’m not sure if it is good enough to make the papuer cube. In Magic Origins, this card becomes difficult to interact or trade with in any quick way after becoming renown. The power level of removal and creatures is much higher and the cube and it is harder for this card to run away with a game.
Wild Instincts: While Wild Instincts is a decent removal spell in Magic Origins limited, it is hard to compete with Green’s other fight spells. I think that Epic Confrontation, Savage Punch, Prey Upon, and Pit Fight are all better for various reasons. Hunt the Weak, Mutant’s Prey, and Time to Feed are all about the same power level as Wild Instincts, so not good enough for the cube. I think that Wild Instincts is the best of those bunch, but doesn’t fit into the cube yet.
Cards coming in: Caustic Catapillar, Deadbridge Shaman, Ghirapur Gearcrafter, Kytheon’s Tactics, Separatist Voidmage, Suppression Bonds.
Kytheon’s Tactics replaces Inspired Charge
Suppression Bonds replaces Cenn’s Enlistment. Cenn’s Enlistment was the least impressive of the token makers and Icatian Crier gives the deck better legs at the end of the game.
Triplicate Spirits replaces Captain’s Call. This replacement is pretty much a strict upgrade. Captain’s Call will usually be cast for around four mana and the flying gives these tokens a huge edge when casting the trumpet blast effects.
Ghirapur Gearcrafter replaces Mogg Conscripts. Mogg Conscripts is not a great 1 drop in cube and goblins isn’t as supported as it used to be.
Snakeform brought back in to replace Winged Coatl. Snakeform and Winged Coatl are basically both removal spells in most situations. Snakeform gets the edge because it cantrips.
Deadbridge Shaman replaces Carnophage. Carnophage has been in the cube since its inception, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it actually played. There isn’t a critical mass of aggressive black low drops to support a really good black aggressive deck that Carnophage would fit into. Perhaps one day I will reconsider, but until then I think Deadbridge Shaman is a better fit.
Separatist Voidmage replaces Cloaked Siren. I like Sentinels of Glen Elendra over Cloaked Siren since it is a better ambusher and is a faerie for Spellstutter Sprite.
Caustic Caterpillar replaces Naturalize.
Common Bond replaces Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. While Scion is a big beater, it doesn’t really fit into the G/W decks ideas. Common Bond is a great combat trick and G/W are the colors that would most benefit from a few more combat tricks.